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21 Feb 2022

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Nokia Bell Labs receives US government funding to develop energy-efficient data center cooling

Nokia Bell Labs has been selected for OPEN 2021 funding by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) of the US Department of Energy (DOE). The solution will reduce cooling energy consumption in the data center and capture waste heat for heating and cooling applications.

Through ARPA-E, the US government advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies too early for private-sector investment to parties who are developing entirely new ways to generate, store, and use energy.

Increasing digitalization and automation are driving 5G communication networks and compute systems to grow at incredible rates. To provide the growing range of digital services, AI algorithms require even more power-hungry compute hardware. As a result, cooling energy requirements are projected to grow from the current 30-40% of total power consumption. Nokia Bell Labs' research program aims to dramatically reduce compute cooling energy consumption to 5% or less with the additional benefit of eliminating the need to use precious water supplies.

Nokia Bell Labs is partnering with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as well as commercial partners, including Carrier, in this project. Their goal is to develop a highly efficient, resource-conserving thermal energy architecture that enables high-powered compute cooling while also delivering high quality thermal energy that can be used directly for heating and cooling. By pursuing a low-cost, low-energy two-phase cooling strategy from chip to room scale, the proposed technology will re-engineer compute infrastructure to provide a valuable heat source in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Photo credit: Nokia Bell Labs

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